Saturday Odds & Sods: Nice Work If You Can Get It

Golconda by Rene Magritte

U2 came to town this week but I was involved in another spectacle: babysitting the legendary Child Army so that their parents Cait and Dave could see the Bono bunch. I like early U2 and even the Mick and Keith dynamic between Bono and the Edge but I’m not a fan. Why? I detest the preternaturally pompous Paul Hewson.

Additionally, U2 played the Superdome and I hate, hate, hate stadium concerts. I saw the Stones at the Dome and the sound was atrocious. Dealing with the Benevolent Dictator, Gladowling, and Lagniappe (their social media names) was just as raucous and none of them is a pompous prat like Bono.

Here’s a photo taken by Dr. A that could be entitled Child Army Surrealism. Note the smiling malice of the girl child Lagniappe who is a cross between a cat and Harpo Marx; only she hands you objects instead of her leg.

Lagniappe and the Gladowling.

Eat your heart (hat?) out, Rene Magritte.

Oscar Update: He continues marking but otherwise is feeling fine. We’ve tried everything suggested by the vet and various kitty savants, but are starting to feel like people on My Cat From Hell. At least we understand that it’s not about us but Oscar’s own furry demons. It doesn’t make it easier to deal with. The good news is that our vet has a new plan: to up Oscar’s meds and change his diet. Hopefully, that will help; otherwise we may need Jackson Galaxy.

You may have noticed that I love George and Ira Gershwin’s music. This isn’t the first Gershwin tune to be the Saturday Odds & Sods theme song and it won’t be the last. Nice Work If You Can Get It was written for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers movie A Damsel In Distress. It’s lesser Astaire BUT a major Gershwin tune. I’ll shut up and let Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday carry on.

My friend Kevin at the Gambit Tabloid and I use different words to describe what’s about to happen. He calls it a jump, I call it a break. This insignificant dispute leads to the inevitable Gershwin joke: you say jump, I say break. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Damn, I just gave myself a benign earworm. There’s only one way to cure that.

Thanks, Junior.

Since this is a political blog, we begin our second act with an article about one of my favorite cable teevee hosts.

Don’t Mess With Joy Ann Reid: The Insult Comedian’s victory has been bad for the country but good for Joy Reid’s career. The ratings for AM Joy are boffo by cable news standards and I’m one of her faithful viewers. I love how she don’t take no shit from nobody. She’s as impatient with hardcore Berners as with Trumpers, which gets a thumbs up from me.

Vulture’s Josef Adalian has the combative details.

Let’s move on to a segment about a “kids” teevee show that helped to shape my sense of humor. Warning: there are puns involved. If you’re surprised:

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle: I posted a link to this swell Smithsonian article by Beth Daniels on my Zuckerbook feed. It was commented upon and shared up the wazoo. (I still don’t know what the wazoo is other than a grand Zappa instrumental.) That means that everyone loves Rocky and Bullwinkle as much as I do. But if you’re a Bullwinkle heathen, Daniels fills you in on the format:

Every episode of “The Bullwinkle Show” featured two cliffhanger segments in the adventures of Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel, pitted against master spies Boris and Natasha, all narrated breathlessly by erstwhile radio star William Conrad. Between each serial installment were stand-alone features, including “Peabody’s Improbable History,” wherein Mr. Peabody, a genius dog and his pet boy, Sherman, travel through time to make terrible puns; “Fractured Fairy Tales,” updated twists on Grimm Brothers classics; “Dudley Do-Right,” a parody of silent melodramas starring a cleft-chinned Canadian Mountie; and “Aesop & Son,” modernized versions of Aesop’s fables as told by Charlie Ruggles, star of silent and classic films. Other features included “Bullwinkle’s Corner,” an over-enunciated poetry reading, and “Mr. Know-It-All,” in which Bullwinkle tries and fails to teach us something.

The Bullwinkle Show was the only kids program I remember my mom watching with me. She enjoyed explaining the subtler elements to me. It’s how I learned some history as well as punning and word play; things I’m obviously still into and inflict on my First Draft readers on a regular basis. Thanks, Moose and Squirrel.

The Adrastos comedy influences keep on coming. Next up is an interview with the tallest member of Monty Python.

Cleese Speaks: One reason I posted the Magritte painting of falling Magritte men in bowler hats is that John Cleese often wore a bowler in Python skits. Cleese played many stiff upper lipped stuffed shirts over the years, which is not far from who he really is. Of course, he’s an acerbicly funny stiff upper lipped stuffed shirt as you can see in an interview Cleese did with David Marchese for Vulture. I know, that’s two from Vulture. I guess that makes me a turkey buzzard or some such shit. I should apologize but I’ll  carrion instead…

This was my favorite Cleesian bit:

As someone who’s spent a lifetime working in and thanking about comedy, is there one joke you can point to as being the funniest thing that you ever said? 

Interesting. It would probably have been something unscripted. Eric Idle and I were performing in Florida once, taking questions from the audience, and a woman stood up and asked me, apparently seriously, “Did the Queen kill Princess Diana.

What’d you say?
Certainly not with her hands.

It’s time to Cleese it from this segment but we won’t be going very far afield.

The Saturday GIF Horse: Who else but John Cleese? What else but the ministry of silly walks sketch?

At 77, John Cleese may be getting up there in age but he’s not ready to take his final bow. I have no idea if the New York Times obituary team has an “advance” on Cleese. Only the Grim Reaper knows for sure and he isn’t talking.

Documentary Of The Week: Dr. A had to pop into work last Sunday. I decided to search Amazon for something completely different to watch. (I cannot shake the Cleese influence.) I stumbled upon the fascinating 2016 documentary Obit. It focuses on the fine folks who write obituaries for the Gray Lady. That may sound dry but it is not. We hear about some of the weirder obits they’ve done as well as what happens when a mega-star (i.e. Liz Taylor, David Bowie) dies. They actually have obituary redballs. Who knew?

Here’s the trailer:

Obit is currently streaming at Amazon. I give it 3 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B, and an Siskelian thumbs up.

Saturday Classic: Speaking of great American songwriters, this week’s selection is John Fogerty’s superb 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp. It’s one the best things Fogerty has done and that’s saying a lot. It includes one of the first love songs he ever wrote, You Are The Joy Of My Life. The Joy in question is NOT Joy Reid.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to John Cleese and the Monty Python boys playing BBC announcers who look and sound eerily alike.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Nice Work If You Can Get It

  1. I really don’t exchange Christmas cards with Cait and Dave any more. However, you did bring me Miss Holiday and Mr Bennett. For that I am grateful.

  2. The blog “The Way of Cats” might be helpful – they just moved and one of their cats refused to go into their new home. It took a while for them to figure out that the cat was scared from remnants of a dog; the smell was only noticed by the cat. I have written to her and she writes back and was very helpful!

  3. “… but I’m not a fan. Why? I detest the preternaturally pompous Paul Hewson”

    100% agree.
    What’s the difference between God and Bono?
    God doesn’t wander around Dublin thinking he’s Bono


  4. Hey I know that this was a while ago, but I was sittin bangin the keys and wanted some Tony in the background, so your little blog entry here came up, and I hear Nice Work if you can Get It, written for Fred and Ginger, and I scroll down, and read the notes about Rocket & Bullwinkle, and a mention of Fractured Fairytales, which were narrated by (who else?) Edward Everett Horton, a great comedy foil in a number of Fred and Ginger films,
    What goes around, etc.
    Small World.
    Who Knew?
    Howmi Doin?

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